Editorials

Fixing every school stairwell is wrong call after teen’s death

Students, parents react to death of Collinsville High freshman

In this BND file video from Sept. 22, 2016, freshman Tray Turner's death shocked and saddened students at Collinsville High School. Tray fell in a stairwell at the school on Sept. 19, 2016, and suffered severe head injuries.
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In this BND file video from Sept. 22, 2016, freshman Tray Turner's death shocked and saddened students at Collinsville High School. Tray fell in a stairwell at the school on Sept. 19, 2016, and suffered severe head injuries.

It is easy to understand 14-year-old Collinsville High School freshman Tray Turner’s parents seeking meaning from his accidental death.

Tray on Sept. 19, 2016, was sliding down the school bannister. A friend gave him a push so he’d slide faster, but he slid off.

He died three days later from his injuries.

Medical expenses were more than $100,000. Then there were funeral expenses.

It is easy to understand the financial devastation that could follow the accident. Coping with money pressure atop the emotional devastation of losing a child is unimaginable.

So Tray’s mom got a lawyer. She and the school district settled for $375,000. The district is enclosing the stairways so students can no longer slide on the bannisters.

The part that is problematic is for the mother’s attorney, Troy Walton, and the family to tell every school district that they should retrofit every school stairwell to eliminate bannisters.

“The family is glad that CCUSD No. 10 has completed remediation of the stairwell to ensure that such a senseless tragedy will never occur again,” Walton stated. “They would ask that all schools take a closer look at the safety of their stairwells.”

Let’s say the schools do that, and we all pay for those changes: What’s to stop another teen from tripping down the stairs?

As painful as Tray’s death was for his family, friends and community, the answer is not to try to accident-proof the world. That will never work, and it should not be the lesson we teach our children about who is responsible for their welfare.

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